A decontamination system that will allow N95 respirators to be reused up to 20 times is now up and running, Gov. Tony Evers said Saturday.
The system, developed by private nonprofit research firm Battelle Memorial Institute, will be able to decontaminate up to 80,000 respirators daily.
The services, including shipping, will be provided to Wisconsin healthcare organizations and professionals free of charge.
Caitlyn Farragher, Battelle’s Wisconsin site lead, said they plan 24-hour operations to ensure a "timely turnaround time."
Community COVID-19 testing sites are also set to open in Madison and Milwaukee this week. That builds on testing sites launched in communities in northern and central Wisconsin.
“Anyone who goes to one of these community testing sites will receive their test for free,” Evers told reporters Friday. “If you need a test, we want you to get a test.”
He said that the state is in “pretty good shape” for testing supplies, like swabs and reagents, but still needs help from the federal government.
Evers unveiled a series of guidelines Friday on best practices and safety tips for businesses looking to keep workers, customers and families safe as they reopen.
The guidelines were developed by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in consultation with other state agencies as well as industry associations and experts.
There were 629 additional cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths reported over the weekend. As of Sunday, there were 10,219 positive cases and 400 deaths in total.
Meanwhile, more health systems are restarting elective procedures. Ascension Wisconsin said Friday that it’ll start gradually reintroducing more services for non-urgent and medically necessary procedures as well as primary and specialty care clinic appointments. Bellin Health also said Friday it was resuming procedures and non-urgent appointments put on hold due to the pandemic.
And Marshfield Clinic Health System said Monday it has begun performing non-urgent surgeries at its hospitals in Marshfield and Eau Claire and anticipates increasing the number of procedures at its other hospitals and outpatient surgery centers in the next several weeks.
Advocate Aurora Health and other health systems throughout the state are pursuing similar efforts.